Probably most easily described as “deliciously nasty,” though some moments are far from delicious — in fact, they’re fairly distasteful.But Vincent Price carries the day as Edward Lionheart, a critically maligned hambone Shakespearean actor who takes revenge on various stuffy theater critics, drawing on the Bard’s dramatic murders as inspiration.
Fully aware that he has the role of his career, Price gets to overact (satirically) as Shylock or Richard III, kill his foes with great relish, and yet evoke sympathy for this dedicated but egotistical and perennially third-rate actor. As a bone thrown to the critics reviewing this movie, one of the drama critics (Ian Hendry) emerges as a smart, heroic figure, while the other critics stumble cluelessly to their baroque dooms.
The surprisingly extreme violence of most of the murders can be justified, presumably, because Shakespeare himself did not exactly faint at the sight of stage blood. But some may find the Titus Andronicus sequence, with rotund critic Robert Morley force-fed his beloved poodles, a bit too revolting for its own good. Diana Rigg brings solid support as Edward’s daughter, but are we seriously not supposed to see through her disguises?Still a nifty idea, and Price runs with it.